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CANCELLED | IPP Workshop Series | David E. Susa: Introduction to Book History


Jan 24, 2023 from 02:00 to 04:00 (Europe/Berlin / UTC100)



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The concept of 'Book History' or 'History of Books' can be understood in two different yet related ways. It is, first, the history of the object we know as a book (codex) and, in general, the history of the different ways in which humans have stored texts (cf. Howsam 2015). Second, it is the discipline that studies said history, a relatively recent academic development that is expanding. The workshop tackles both aspects by giving the attendees a general overview of both the history of books as cultural artefacts that have changed and developed for centuries, and as a field of study located in the interception of literary and cultural studies, anthropology, law, and many other disciplines.


The objective of this workshop is to introduce attendees to the main topics and issues of the disciplinary study of books as objects, as well as to give them general tools to think critically about the material life of the sources they use in their own work. Although digitalization allows us to consume texts that are customizable by the user, disrupting our previous conceptions of a book, the history of how they were originally produced, distributed and consumed is essential to acquire a more complex and complete understanding of their meaning and existence.


This workshop would be divided into three parts. In the first, the lecturer will focus on the history of the book as an object. This general overview does not aspire to be comprehensive, but to provide landmarks that will help to locate different works within their historical context. The second section will deal with the History of Books as a discipline: its origins, its more distinguished proponents and its current issues and perspectives. Finally, the participants will read and comment on some historical texts about books to gain a more nuanced perspective when studying texts from the past.


Works Cited:

Howsam, Leslie. (2015). "The study of book history". In The Cambridge Companion to the History of the Book. Edited by Leslie Howsam. Cambridge University Press.


The IPP Workshop Series

It offers IPP members the opportunity to lead a workshop on current concepts and methods in the Study of culture. The aim of the series is to create an interactive discussion group for doctoral candidates and students. The topics can range from general introductions to various "schools" of literary and cultural theory to concepts, methods and topics of literary and cultural theory.